Teach Enrich Empower
Vietnam was our Country of Choice
I moved to Cape Town, South Africa after high school to study performing arts. I graduated in 2012 and have been working in the industry for 3 years. Working in the arts definitely has its ups and downs and jobs can be very inconsistent.
I was feeling very unsure about my future and felt like I needed a change to figure out if I wanted to continue in this direction or not. My boyfriend and I started playing with the idea of travel and working remotely while travelling. We both felt like it was the right time in our lives and careers to do so before we got tied down and stuck in a 9 to 5 job. We decided to save up and 2016 would be our year to brave the world. We chose South East Asia for a few reasons:
- It seemed like the best option to stretch our hard-earned savings.
- It is easy to travel to neighbouring countries.
- It has abundant natural beauty and cultural differences that could be enriching.
While my boyfriend is a web developer and can work pretty much anywhere that has a decent Wi-Fi connection, my skill sets are rather limited. I started considering the types of work that I could possibly do abroad and teaching English seemed like the most viable option. A 120-hour online TEFL course was my answer. I learned a lot about class room management, teaching styles and strategies, to be mindful of and respect foreign cultures and it provided a lot of online source material and lesson planning. I felt confident enough to take the plunge.
“There are so many teaching opportunities in Vietnam!”
We wanted to travel for a short while and then find a place that we liked to settle down and work for a while, save some money and continue our travels. Vietnam was our country of choice. We bought a motorcycle in the north and planned to drive all the way south. We found ourselves in the central, coastal city of Da Nang. Something just felt right here and we decided to stay. We found accommodation at a great house share and made some special friendships. I ended up finding a job really easily as one of my housemates was teaching art at a kindergarten and the principal of the school asked him if he happened to know anyone who could teach fitness/aerobics/dance. He recommended me and while at the interview I had to do an unexpected demo class on the spot. I got the job!
I taught two back to back half hour dance-fitness classes for two age groups being 3/4 years and 4/5 years. The principal thought this would be a good way to introduce vocabulary to the children in a fun way. I used music that was child friendly, naming body parts and using coordinative words like hop, jump, stretch, turn, left, right, up, down etc. Teaching can be extremely rewarding, seeing the children grow and how much they enjoy the classes. I had so many wonderful students. I didn’t have many hours at the school but it was enough to cover rent and some food expenses. We were lucky enough to have a dual income which meant I didn’t need to look for a second position at another school. We managed to save a bit every month. We stayed in Da Nang for 4 months before carrying on our travel adventure.
There are so many teaching opportunities in Vietnam! Most people will find tons of work in Hanoi and Saigon as they are huge cities and there is a great demand for English teachers, whether it be part time at language centres, full time teaching positions at schools or informal self-made and organised classes. I guarantee you, you will find a job and all you need is a TEFL certificate.
The quality of life is great in Vietnam. It’s a very cheap country to live in and expenses are relatively low. Most of my days consisted of a yoga class in the morning, buying fresh fruit at the local market, taking a swim in the ocean and teaching in the afternoons, followed by a delicious Vietnamese meal somewhere for dinner. The local cuisine is delicious and the people are very helpful and friendly, especially in central and southern Vietnam. I highly recommend learning Vietnamese though as this will help you tremendously as not many people speak English. There are plenty of places you can take Vietnamese classes in the cities (Duolingo also offers Vietnamese) and there is a large expat community too if you need help and a connective network.
My teaching experience in Vietnam was very special and made me realise that I really like working with children. When I return home from my travels I intend on teaching English online. There are numerous online companies, mainly from China, that need native speakers to teach conversational and professional English to students. I’ll do this part-time allowing me to pursue my performance career at the same time.
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